Review Detail

Kids Fiction 796
One side to Castro's Cuba
Overall rating 
 
3.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
3.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A
Lora's family is poor, but has a decent life in Havana in the late 1950s. Lora wants desperately to go to a better school, but her parents don't have money to send her. Her abuela, who is very forward thinking, offers Lora jewelry that she was saving for her and says she may sell it and use the money for school. Lora does. When she is 13, Lora decides to join the Literacy Brigadistas, which was an idea of Fidel Castro's to raise the literacy rate and help the poorer, less educated people understand concepts in his new government. The Brigadistas, who were often very young and female, were given brief training on how to teach reading and then sent out into remote areas of the country to live and work with families while teaching them to read. They were given hammocks, since the families wouldn't have extra beds, lanterns so that people could learn after their day of working on the farm, and instruction in basic agricultural practice so that they could help on the farms. Lora ends up living with Luis and Veronica, who have three small children, and is also in charge of educating the nearby family. While the women were pleased to learn to read, the men often did not want to learn from young girls. Lora enjoys being with the family and learning of their hardships, but the atmosphere in Cuba is very tense, and the brigadistas are fearful that the resistance will attack them. After making sure that her students all pass their exams, Lora returns to her family, and the experience has a profound effect on her life.
Good Points
I've had several students with Cuban backgrounds who are very interested in reading stories like The Red Umbrella or 90 Miles to Havana. I had never heard of this reading initiative, and found it interesting that even with a higher literacy rate than other countries, Cuba thought that this was important enough to pursue, and that the country's literacy rate went up from 60% to 96%. The book concentrated more on the positives of teaching people to read, and Lora learned things from the family about the way other people lived their lives as well. There are extensive notes in the back of the book about the research, as well as a helpful time line.

Some Cubans might not agree with this portrayal of Cuba at this time. Paterson covered all of her bases when it comes to researching the basic story, and Lora isn't at all condescending to her students. This is selectively representative of the climate at the time, and focuses on the positives of Castro's early days, glossing over the bad things that occurred.

I wish the cover incorporated some of the period photographs of brigadistas, so it would be very clear that this was a historical novel. There are some resources online, and I can see this book being a great starting point to an exploration of Cuban history. Even if this were an #ownvoices book, I can see there being a lot of different opinions about this reading program, no matter how positive it is in concept. Young readers need to understand that stories are often complex.
Report this review Was this review helpful to you? 0 0

Comments

Already have an account? or Create an account
Powered by JReviews

FEATURED GIVEAWAYS

Latest Book Listings Added

Thomas Edison
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Learn about the life of Thomas Edison in this early...
Pete the Cat: 5-Minute Bedtime Stories: Includes 12 Cozy Stories!
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Join Pete the Cat for 12 groovy, cozy stories perfect...
Sabina: In the Eye of the Storm
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
As in Anne Frank's "Diary of a Young Girl" and...
Literally: Amazing Words and Where They Come From
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
A stunning non-fiction picture book about the origins of the...
Ty's Travels: All Aboard!
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Join Ty on his imaginative adventures in Ty's Travels: All...
Cuddle Close, Little Koala
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
A reassuring bedtime story about the special bond between a...
We Are Together
 
3.5
 
0.0 (0)
The power of love and friendship is celebrated in this...
Rage and Ruin (The Harbinger, #2)
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Half-angel Trinity and her bonded gargoyle protector, Zayne, have been...
Diamond City (Diamond City, #1)
 
3.3
 
0.0 (0)
"A thrilling adventure, through a vibrant city as alive as...
Shadow of the Batgirl
 
4.7
 
0.0 (0)
Cassandra Cain, teenage assassin, isn't exactly Batgirl material...yet. Will she...
Of Ice and Shadows
 
3.7
 
0.0 (0)
The long-awaited sequel to Of Fire and Stars—in which Mare...
Agnes at the End of the World
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
The Handmaid's Tale meets Wilder Girls in this genre-defying novel...
My Love is All Around
 
4.5
 
0.0 (0)
Mommy Bear shows Baby Bear how love is all around...
I'm not a Mouse!
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Olivia really doesn't like her nickname - mostly because it...
My Panda Sweater
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
The other kids may laugh, but I always feel safe...
One Day on our Blue Planet... In the Outback
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
From breakfast to dinner, dusk to dawn, children will love...

Latest Member Reviews

Safe House (1-800-Where-R-You #3)
 
5.0
"Reader reviewed by meimei I just received the item I ordered, and was very pleased I got a truly high..."
Safe House (1-800-Where-R-You #3)
 
4.0
"Reader reviewed by Ruthie As usual, this was a great read. The storyline was a little more predictable this time..."
 
4.0
"Reader reviewed by Reading Angel "This was such a cute YA story. It really defeats the "goth" steriotype and is..."
 
5.0
"Reader reviewed by Bookworm This was by far one of the best books I ever read!!!!!        It's the story..."
The Secret Life of Prince Charming
 
4.0
"Quinn Hunts parents are divorced and for the longest time she didnt see her dad, Barry. But, for the..."
 
3.0
"Reader reviewed by Chaellee All in all, the plot is good.R. L. Stine has always bugged me with the way..."
The Kill (The Forbidden Game #3)
 
5.0
"Reader reviewed by GRgenius Seeking a way into the Shadow World, Jenny and her four remaining friends set out for..."
The Secret Life of Prince Charming
 
4.0
"Reader reviewed by charlie I thought this book was entertaining. I loved the little stories hidden in each of..."
Forged by Fire (Hazelwood High #2)
 
1.0
"Reader reviewed by Cintia Gerald has been in a constantstruggle to find a stable home ever since he was a..."
Water Song: A Retelling of "The Frog Prince" (Once Upon a Time)
 
4.0
"Reader reviewed by EshInoBi I've never read the Frog Prince, but I'm sure I know it wasn't as interesting as..."
The Rose Bride:  A Retelling of "The White Bride and The Black Bride" (Once Upon a Time)
 
3.0
"Reader reviewed by EshInoBi This book was just plain creepy. Odd. Creepy. Odd. I don't know which. It was just..."
Once Upon A Time:  Wild Orchid: A Retelling of "The Battle of Mulan"
 
4.0
"Reader reviewed by EshInobi This story is based on The Ballad of Mulan, a Chinese poem. I was very intrigued..."
Once Upon A Time:  Wild Orchid: A Retelling of "The Battle of Mulan"
 
3.0
"Reader reviewed by Lexie Wild Orchid is part of the YA Romance line of books 'Once Upon a Time' from..."
 
5.0
"Reader reviewed by rachyyson. shug has been my favorite book yet, I am currently reading Lush. these books relate in..."
 
5.0
"Reader reviewed by Steph Su Twelve-year-old Annemarie Wilcoxnicknamed Shug, which is short for sugaris feeling anything but..."
Golden: A Retelling of "Rapunzel" (Once Upon a Time)
 
4.0
"Reader reviewed by EshInoBi Golden was ok. I give it a thumbs up :] At first it was exciting, then..."
Forged by Fire (Hazelwood High #2)
 
5.0
"Reader reviewed by Peacechik This book was so real! Ms. Draper is truly a great writer. This book is for..."
Forged by Fire (Hazelwood High #2)
 
4.0
"Reader reviewed by Sami This is a good book about Will Gerald. Will Gerald is faced with having to constantly..."
Safe House (1-800-Where-R-You #3)
 
4.0
"Reader reviewed by Allyssa In this book series, the main character, Jessica was hit by lightning and was able to..."
 
5.0
"Reader reviewed by Dani I loved this book. It was a great reading experience. I would never ask a boy..."